- The Chronicle released data on the earnings of private college and university presidents, revealing 39 whose salaries and bonus compensation packages netted them $1 million or more in 2014, up from 32 in the previous year.
- Wilmington University's Jack Varsalona was the top-paid president, netting over $5.4 million and pacing a list of earned compensation collected from institutional tax records for more than 500 institutions with the nation's highest endowment returns.
- The average pay of private college presidents in 2014 was $489,927.
Some say public data about the high salaries of college leaders is part of the growing negative view about the value of higher education, but board members say the salaries reflect quality work from the executives and the difficulty in finding and retaining such talent. Higher education is a major industry with billions of dollars and thousands of lives at stake in its workforce and the ability to train students for the same. In many states, institutions are the largest or second-largest employers next to civic or federal government. It's no surprise that the individuals heading these organizations are paid on balance with the work and the headaches associated with the job, as well as the nature of the turnover involved with the position.
What boards and presidents can do to counter narratives of elitism or executive overspending is to highlight the responsibilities of the position, and to expose how leaders ae meeting those objectives on quarterly and annual review periods. That means that deliverables are shown more than once a year in a beautifully-designed president's report, but in real time to show effective change for the campus and surrounding community.